Our Efforts in the News

Below, find some of the recent media about the Joyful Heart Foundation's efforts to end the rape kit backlog in the news. For even more about our work in the news, visit www.joyfulheartfoundation.org.

For media inquiries, email media@endthebacklog.org.

White House, NYC prosecutor pledge $79 million to test rape kits

The Associated Press
September 10, 2015
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An estimated 70,000 rape kits sitting in laboratories and evidence collection rooms across the country will be tested with a combined $79 million in federal and New York City funds designed to cut the backlog of untested DNA evidence in 27 states, officials announced Thursday. 

"There's nothing more consequential than giving a woman back her life," said Vice President Joe Biden, after touring the New York City medical examiner's testing lab with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and "Law & Order: SVU" actress Mariska Hargitay.


Tens of thousands of rape kits go untested across USA

By Steve Reilly
July 16, 2015
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A USA TODAY Media Network investigation identified tens of thousands of sexual assault evidence kits never tested by police.

In the most detailed nationwide inventory of untested rape kits ever, USA TODAY and journalists from more than 75 Gannett newspapers and TEGNA TV stations have found at least 70,000 neglected kits in an open-records campaign covering 1,000-plus police agencies – and counting. Despite its scope, the agency-by-agency count covers a fraction of the nation's 18,000 police departments, suggesting the number of untested rape kits reaches into the hundreds of thousands.


Will new focus on rape kit tests put thousands behind bars?

By Sharon Cohen
May 30, 2015
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The evidence piled up for years, abandoned in police property rooms, warehouses and crime labs. Now, tens of thousands of sexual assault kits are giving up their secrets — and rapists who've long remained free may finally face justice.

A dramatic shift is taking hold across the country as police and prosecutors scramble to process these kits and use DNA matches to track down sexual predators, many of whom attacked more women while evidence of their crimes languished in storage. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are proposing reforms to ensure this doesn't happen again.



Despite DNA, the Rapist Got Away

By Nicholas Kristof
May 10, 2015
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Natasha, 14, had just gotten off the school bus after ninth-grade basketball practice one evening and was walking home on a quiet street beside a creek. When she heard footsteps behind her, she thought it was one of her classmates.

Instead, it was a man who grabbed her and threw her over a fence into a wooded area beside the creek. He beat her, stripped her and raped her, she says, and then dragged her into the creek and plunged her head under the water.

A couple of times, he pulled her head up to see if she was still breathing. So she says that the next time she pretended to be dead. He kicked her body further into the stream and then left.

Natasha says she waited and, when she was sure he had gone, waded back to shore and ran home. Her family rushed her to the hospital, where she endured hours of humiliating scrutiny as nurses collected a rape kit: DNA, hairs, fibers, anything that could be found on her body. The police took a statement from Natasha and picked up the rape kit from the hospital.

Then they did nothing. For years.


Manhattan D.A. pledges $35M to end untested 'rape kit' backlog in U.S.

By James Queally
November 12, 2014
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The Manhattan district attorney's office has pledged up to $35 million in grant money to help end a nationwide backlog of untested "rape kits," a move that could help uncover serial offenders after similar efforts led to a slew of convictions in Detroit.

New York County Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr. said Wednesday that his office will use funds seized through asset forfeiture laws, including recent cases where defendants were convicted of violating international sanctions, to support the reform effort.

"Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: You matter. What happened to you matters. Your cases matter."

- Mariska Hargitay, president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation

“To have hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested is unacceptable. Rape victims nationwide deserve to know that the invasive examination they underwent had a purpose, and the resulting kit was not left to gather dust on a forgotten shelf," Vance Jr. said at a news briefing. "But more than that, DNA evidence, consistently prosecutors’ most reliable and cost-effective tool, solves crimes across state lines."


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